Thank you . . .
(from Maine Townsman, February 2002)
Maine’s municipalities are very concerned about unfunded federal mandates and federal intrusion into historical areas of local control, but MMA’s Executive Committee would like to set those concerns aside for a moment and express its gratitude to Maine’s Congressional delegation for its continued support of several federal programs that have significantly benefited the people of Maine, and its unified opposition to the annexation of large tracts of northern Maine to create a federal park.
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program
One federal initiative that is very popular on the local level is the COPS Program. Since its enactment in 1994, the municipalities have noticed an unwavering financial commitment to fund COPS. This federal legislation has provided Maine’s police departments with the financial capacity to hire more than 280 additional law enforcement officers. Police departments that elect to participate in the program make application directly to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ provides federal grants in an amount up to 75% of the total salary and benefits of the law enforcement officers for a three-year period. Police departments are obligated to retain the officer for one budget cycle beyond the three-year term. To be eligible for funding, the police department must utilize the additional law enforcement officer in a community policing capacity, though this need not be the only responsibility of the officer.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The Federal LIHEAP program is a successful program providing heating assistance to over 45,000 Maine households. Over the past decade, the State has received $180 million in federal heating assistance grants. LIHEAP supplemental funds are dependent upon the severity of the winter as well as fluctuations in the price of oil. Within the last ten years Maine has received an additional $41 million in supplemental awards. This federal financial support has provided an average $300 heating assistance benefit to Maine citizens in need.
Creation of a New Federal Park
Recently MMA’s Executive Committee read with great interest a letter from the Director of the U.S. Department of the Interior to the Maine Legislature. The letter provided a reassurance that the Department of Interior did not have any intentions of undertaking an analysis of the need for a federal park located in Maine’s north woods. MMA addressed this issue with the delegation in the 2001 Federal Issues Paper and received assurance at that time that delegation members opposed the creation of a federal park. MMA wants to thank all members of the delegation for their continued advocacy against the creation of a federal park.